Circa last midnight, I caught a taxi home. I was tired, but still happy to chat with the driver, a young Indian man with perfect English. The conversation went something like this:
Driver: So, have you just finished work?
Me: No. I was meant to go to a philosophy talk with my husband, but the speaker never showed up, so everyone went to the pub. I’m a bit tired today, though, so I’ve decided to head home.
Driver: You’re married?
Driver: What country are you from?
Me: From here. I’m Australian.
Driver: Australian? You’re the first married Australian girl I’ve ever met. And you’re young. Here, it’s not common to be married young. Most married Australian women I meet are thirty, thirty-five.
Me: Yes, it can be like that. It’s funny, I don’t think my family thought I’d get married – I always said I wouldn’t. Actually, I married at a younger age than either my mother or grandmother.
Driver: [curious] But did they ask you to get married? I mean, did you choose your husband?
Me: [laughing] Yes. It was our choice. We weren’t engaged for long – we didn’t even have a ring, but my mother in law had some family rings she said I could choose from –
Driver: So your families approved? They met?
Me: Yes, they all get along. Everyone’s lovely.
Driver: [laughing] You’re very lucky. And your husband, he was a good choice? You like him?
Me: [laughing] Very much. Very happy with the choice.
Me: [after giving directions] I’m so tired today. But at least it’s my short week at work. I work part-time.
Driver: Where do you work?
Me: For the government. I do administrative stuff.
Driver: Really? And you’re so young. How old are you?
Driver: You know, most Australian girls I see, they aren’t nice like you, they’re always loud and drink too much. But you’re married at twenty-three!
Me: And you?
Driver: Me? No, I’m twenty-three, too, I’m not married. For me, twenty-five, twenty-six – that’s a good age to get married. But, you know, like I said, it’s difficult with the Australian girls. My family is traditional.
Me: Yeah? I can understand that. Back in highschool, I went out with an Indian boy, but his family weren’t allowed to know about me. Then one day, we were hanging out at the shops, and his parents showed up early to pick him up, so I had to duck around the corner and hide. They were fine after that, I think, but we only went out for a few months, anyway.
Driver: [interested] Really? And do you still see him now? I mean, are you still friends?
Me: I guess so. We still have friends in common, we didn’t really break up on bad terms or anything –
Driver: [laughing] See, he was lucky with you. He should’ve married you!
Me: [laughing] Somehow, I don’t think that would’ve worked. It was highschool.
Driver: Fair enough, fair enough. But with the traditional families, it’s hard, you know?
Me: Yeah. Although another friend of mine married an Indian girl, and their families all get along. They’re a good couple.
Driver: He was Indian?
Me: No, he’s white. She’s Indian.
Driver: [wistfully] Ah, it’s easier for the Indian girls, though. They like the white skin, because it’s beautiful.